The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down

1469 Words6 Pages
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down, by Anne Fadiman, illuminates the issues that arise when constructive collaboration cannot be accomplished between two conflicting parties. The conflict between Western beliefs and Hmong ideology is illuminated through a young epileptic Hmong named Lia Lee, and her tragic experience due to cultural differences. Ultimately, the conflict between parent and doctor beliefs thwarted medical advancement, eventually leaving her in a vegetative state and a premature death. In order to fully understand her predicament, we must establish the bounds of each culture. Largely defined by science, Western culture approaches things in technical terms, with decisions being based on measurable evidence. Western advocates argue that individuals must understand and accept scientific reality over their religious views. Non-Western beliefs, such as the Hmong culture, are largely defined by religion and pseudo-science practices. Those that oppose strict Western ideology, such as Francesca Farr, propose, “our view of reality is only a view, not reality itself” (p 276). In other words, reality is relative to the respective individual. Legitimate claims on both sides create a large grey area of misinterpretation. On the contrary, health does not have margin for misinterpretation. The lack of understanding can prevent Western doctors from providing certain aspects of treatment. Even worse, the patient may reject treatment entirely. This dilemma in cultural
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